February 29, 2012 + Orthodoxy Sunday


by Fr. Paul N. Tarazi
from The Word, April 1983

The Sunday of Orthodoxy is a gathering of commemoration, a commemoration of a bright victory, the victory of the Orthodox Faith at the 7th Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea in 787. Yes! A festivity of victory! This is after all what Orthodoxy Sunday is all about. However, it is to my eyes highly symbolical that, already since its inception in 843, this festivity has taken place on the 1st Sunday of the Great Lent.

In the eyes of the world any feast without meat, eggs and dairy products cannot be a full scale festivity; it is indeed puzzling — if not insane — to celebrate a great victory in such a meager way. But for us, this celebration is held at the beginning of Lent as an ever reminder that it is Pascha (Easter) —the Feast of Feasts, our only ultimate Feast — which is the fulfillment of Orthodoxy. Any other festivity or celebration is by the same token wanting and incomplete until our eyes have seen Jesus Christ, the Joy of our hearts, risen from the dead, smashing down forever sin, sickness and death, and bestowing His Life upon all those who have lost life.

But Easter is not a magical trick whereby everything happens suddenly and in a compulsory way. It is rather the culmination of a long process, a long journey of pilgrimage. It is indeed very suggestive that we Orthodox, celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation with the words "Today is the beginning of our salvation!" The movement towards the victory of Easter is triggered when Jesus begins His pilgrimage: leaving His Father and His heavenly abode, He accepts an earthly one in the womb of the Virgin Mary and all the consequences which such an act entails. Did not the long history of our salvation actually begin with the words: "The Lord said to Abram: Leave your country, your kinsfolk and your t father’s house, for the land which I will show you?" (Gen.12:1).

Orthodoxy Sunday is celebrated at the beginning of Lent as a harsh reminder that our being true Orthodox is at stake today: to embark on the journey of Lent or not to embark, that is the question! To accept the fact that we are pilgrims on this earth and that "our citizenship is in heaven from which we eagerly await a Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ," (Phil 3:20), that is the question! To understand that the Joy of Easter —the core of Orthodoxy — is not triggered by lit candles, boiled eggs or cooked lamb, but is a gift of God to all those who have embraced the mystery of His Incarnation, that is the question! And we all know that it is the reality of God’s Incarnation that was at stake in the great battle for the Icons in the 8th and 9th centuries.

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Holy and Righteous Martyr Eudokia the Samaritan - March 1

Troparion of St. Eudokia, Tone 3

O Eudokia, when godly fear entered thy heart, thou didst abandon the glory of the world, and hasten to God the Word. Thou didst take His yoke on thy flesh, and shed thy blood in a contest surpassing nature. O glorious Martyr, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.

Kontakion of St. Eudokia, Tone 4

He Who was pleased to raise thee from the depths of perdition to the summit of godliness has also made thee illustrious through thy contest. He has granted thee the grace of healing, O righteous Martyr and equal to the Angels. Beseech Him to save us, O Eudokia.